Boeing partners with Tactical Robotics to develop VTOL tech

Darrell Etherington

Boeing has signed a new agreement with Israel-based Tactical Robotics, an exploratory deal that will see the two companies work together jointly on "developing, producing and marketing" aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities based on Tactical Robotics' "Fancraft" enclosed rotor technology.

Already, the Urban Aeronautics-owned Tactical Robotics has developed "Cormorant," an autonomous flying car vehicle that has the footprint of roughly a Humvee, but that can take off and land vertically thanks to its Fancraft rotors. Unlike open rotors, these are placed inside ducts, which provide advantages both in terms of directing airflow and providing enhanced safety for anyone around the vehicle because they're mostly covered. This new arrangement between the two companies will begin with exploring options for Cormorant in terms of production and deployment for potential applications, including disaster response.

The overall deal between Boeing and Tactical Robotics could be much broader-reaching, however, and includes development and exploration of both piloted and autonomous VTOL aircraft. This is yet another example of how the VTOL industry is heating up in terms of partnership, investments and productization.